Men who avoid women at work because of fear of alleged reports of sexual harassment

She’s walking around in her workout clothes and has just put the image of her naked in the shower into my head? I’d wonder if she was flirting with me. If I was single and interested, I might look for other signs and opportunities to flirt back.

But, keeping in mind the theme of this thread, I might also worry about the consequences if I misread what I thought was a signal that she was interested in me. Would flirting back be taken positively, neutrally, or negatively? If it was taken negatively, what’s the worst case scenario? I might decide that even if I thought I had received a signal, it’s better off to ignore it than face the repercussions of unwanted attention being reported.

Is that how it works?

Women: Have you, or anyone you know, ever flirted with anyone by mentioning that you need a shower?

Do you work with 14 year olds? Since it sounds like it.

Good grief.


Seems like she might be working with @Wrenching_Spanners.

This is a classic although very minor form of “harasser spin”: describe the sexualization of the interaction as something that she “did” to you, implying that she’s the one responsible for the sexualization.

No, in this case the hypothetical “she” did not “put” any image “into your head”. She merely mentioned the mundane fact of needing to shower and change after a workout, in a non-sexual way. You and/or your head decided to react to that by gratuitously imagining her naked.

I know that many men say they can’t help having highly responsive arousal triggers and being sexually stimulated by sights and words in casual interactions that were not intended sexually. Fine, I’m not blaming anybody for that. But you don’t get to offload the responsibility for your low arousal threshold onto the normal and non-sexual actions of women.

If you happen to be an easily triggered horndog who can’t hear even the most casual reference to showering by a female colleague without getting sidetracked into sexual imagery, it’s on you to deal with your overreaction professionally, without making the situation uncomfortable for other people. And also without implying that other people’s normal and non-sexual behavior bears the responsibility for your overreaction.

Have you been reading this thread?

Yup. I’m no expert in flirting and am much likelier to underestimate it than to overestimate it–but I have a real hard time imagining that a woman mentioning a shower is flirting. That may be because I work in a mostly-woman environment and I hear how women talk with one another. Or maybe it’s because I know more about flirting than I give myself credit for.

But unless a woman is leaning over my desk and sliding her sweaty torso across its surface while making prolonged eye contact with me, I’m not going to interpret her mention of taking a shower as flirting.

Here’s a tip, dude. If you ask a woman out and she says she can’t go because she has to wash her hair, that means she’s not into you. It doesn’t mean anything else.

And I couldn’t help but notice that you immediately equated Michelle’s shower with workout clothes and lunch breaks. When I was younger, before I realized I was working with immature men that think the only reason women shower is so they can admire their own soapy boobs in the mirror, I was working doing manual labor outdoors, in 90 degree weather, in dirt.

You know, situations where “I can’t wait to get home and shower” might be the thing that’s very much foremost in your mind.

One of my biggest frustrations with being a beautiful women in a male dominated professional world was knowing that the professionalism was just a veneer and that most of the people you worked with were sexualizing you on some level.

My teacher and mentor, that after 15 years, grabbed me and kissed me in the office because he felt it was important that I know…….something. The new client, someone that was introduced to me by my boss, that asked me out during our first meeting and stormed out when I told him I had a boyfriend and proceeded to cut me dead every time he saw me for the next five years.

Another client that had become a friend to the extent that I once vacationed him and his wife and children, that made a pass at me after a twenty-year friendship.

And then guys wonder why we don’t “smile more.”

I don’t understand why there is a time limit for making a pass at someone, but if there is one, how long is it? I assume it’s probably less than 20 years.

Did you miss the “wife and children”? Presumably this twenty-year friendship was with them, too.

Yes. My apologies.

As an old married woman, I really hate to think that a dude I work with could think that me mentioning a shower, or anything related to a bed, meant I was the sort of married woman who would make a pass. A dude telling other people that you are that sort of woman can do a shit ton of damage to your career, if he’s taken seriously.

Which is exactly the reverse of the sort of situation that prompted the OP: that interacting with women opens the door to an incorrect accusation. Because that risk is just part of living in society. So rather than avoiding men, I will just continue to be a good person, and hope any random male imagining a pass where none existed will not be taken seriously.

I mean, do we though, when it’s singling out just ourselves? Last night I needed to paint the sides of 2 cabinets and then take a shower. I decided not to bother changing into my paint clothes for a 10 minute task, so I just took off my clothes and painted in my panties and nothing else. I don’t think I’m going to be telling any women who know what I look like (and so could picture this scenario) that fact.

If there was a story there, like how you then discovered scrubbing enamel paint off skin was 1000% more difficult than it would have been to just change, or if you MiL had dropped in without calling, leaving you to scramble, or if your cats had been so confused by this they sat and stared at you in shock the whole time, or if you needed an illustration of “non-sexual nakedness” in a discussion, if there were a reason, would you still avoid the anecdote?

No, of course not.

I’ve skated around it. Like, when I needed to regrout the tub, I filled the tub with water (so it would be as far away from the tiles as it ever was and stepped into the full tub to do the grout work. Yes, I was naked. Why risk ruining a bathing suit? But when I tell people that story, I rarely mention that I was naked throughout, even though it’s sort of relevant and, imho, excellent advice for anyone trying to do the same thing.

Bit of a hijack, that has nothing to do with flirting or nudity - why did you fill the tub? To catch any grout splatters before they hit the porcelain? Did it work? If so, I might want to pass that tip on to my customers.

The floor wasn’t completely solid, and the tub pulled just a little farther away from the tiles above it when it was full than when it was empty. I was using silicone grout, which compresses better than it stretches. So by letting it set at its maximum distance, I maximized it’s resiliency.

That grout stayed perfect until I replaced the tub, 15 years later. So I am satisfied it worked.

Oh! That’s not what I envisioned; I thought you were grouting the tile on the wall and using the water as something like a dropcloth.

Pertinent to the topic of the thread, when I visualized this, I pictured your tub and wall; you and your state of dress didn’t feature in my mental image at all.

Hmm. I pictured my tub and wall, since I have no idea what puzzlegal’s bathroom looks like. And the chance of me mixing up the contexts of home improvement and sexytime (at least unprovoked), are approximately zero.

Likewise in my work environment, it just has nothing to do with sex.


Of course. I mean, sexytime is fun and all, but DIY home improvement is important!